Thinking Outside the Box: Alternative Career Paths for Chemical Engineering

Monday, October 21, 2019
Argyle Suite A2

Led by Peter Connell, Managing Director, DSRA Architecture

A chemical engineering degree prepares you for many types of careers. Chemical engineers succeed in critical thinking, analyzing, innovating, and getting results. These skills apply to any career path. What are other options besides working at a plant or going to graduate school? This session will focus on careers beyond those mentioned in the textbooks, and how a chemical engineering degree prepares you for it. Hear about unique jobs that professionals have found and the paths they took to get to their dream job.

The target audience for this workshop is undergraduate students. However, all conference attendees are welcome and encouraged to attend.


Peter Connell is a practicing architect and engineer licensed with the NSAA and APENS. He earned a Bachelor of Engineering in chemical engineering from the Technical University of Nova Scotia; a Master of Engineering in chemical engineering from McMaster University (Reverse Osmosis Transport Modelling Theory). He has worked as a research and development engineer (EIT) for Abitibi-Price (Pulp & Paper), leading a microfiltration pilot project in whitewater effluent recycling; a process development engineer (EIT) for Zenon Environmental conducting R&D in many industrial waste treatment applications, including ultrafiltration of tar-sands steam injection condensate.  He return to university in 1990 and earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design Studies from Dalhousie; and a Master of Architecture from Dalhousie University in 1994. Connell worked for several notable architecture firms in region and abroad as an intern architect before starting his own firm, Envision Architecture, in 2005. He was invited to merge his firm into Davison Seamone Rickard Adams Architects, n 2008, to facilitate a partner transitioning and reconstruction of the business and major project activities.

Today Connell is the managing director of DSRA Architecture Inc, based in Halifax. He has led the design and project management of over $750M of new construction work in Atlantic Canada over the past 25 years. Some notable projects include the HRM’s Canada Games Centre, Dalhousie IDEA Building, SMU Homburg Centre and Arena, Pictou County Wellness Centre, Dalhousie LeMarchant Place, Prospect Road Community Centre, and the Emera Oval Pavilion.

Connell is a generalist within a world of specialists. He enjoys working with a multidisciplinary team to navigate complex design problems. His 20 person design studio is composed of architects, engineers, and designers from around the world with diverse backgrounds, ethnicity, gender, language experience, and interests; 3/4 of staff were born outside North America and count English as their second or third language. The firm is a co-mingling of diverse specialists and generalists minds within an integrated design model, leading to innovative design thinking and creative problem solving. The firm is a flat organization where the best idea always wins, even from a washed up chemical engineer.